Legal issues must not derail whistleblower protection law
MEPs and activists reacted with dismay, at today’s Greens and S&D ‘Protecting EU Whistleblowers: A Race Against Time’ conference, to the suggestion that the opinion of the Council’s legal services, on the whistleblowers protection file, could delay or even derail the proposed legislation.
Whistleblower protection before European elections?
The suggestion that the recent opinion of the Council’s legal services, on the whistleblowers protection file, could delay or even derail the proposed legislation, was rejected by MEPs and activists at today's whistleblower protection event, held at the European Parliament. Speakers expressed their fears that a final agreement may not reached before the upcoming European elections.
It was revealed in December that the legal service of the Council in an opinion on the legal basis of the whistleblowers protection directive, which argued that the directive must be split into several different legal acts.
Green MEP Pascal Durand addressing attendees said, ‘When this one [Council] legal opinion is pitted against all the other legal opinions, it would make a lot of sense to go with the majority of legal opinions and not focus on this one’, aberrant legal opinion.
European needs and deserves a good whistleblower protection regime
Martin Jefflén, President of Eurocadres, agreed: ‘It is strange that there have been several legal opinions, none of which brought up the issues raised by Council’s legal services, at this late stage. Our members and the public would rightly be extremely disappointed if this became a block to Europe having the good whistleblower protection regime it needs and deserves’.
If the whistleblower protection legislation is not finalised, European citizens will question the reliability of EU institutions,
According to MEP Virginie Rozière, the Rapporteur who guided the whistleblower protection dossier through the European Parliament, ‘the assessment of legal opinions will come down to political decisions’. She believes that if the whistleblower protection legislation is not finalised, ‘European citizens will question the reliability of EU institutions, especially as they have seen so much illegal activities and wrong-doing uncovered by whistleblowers in recent years’.
Durand went even further, he claimed that a failure to pass whistleblower protection legislation, including protection when reporting on tax evasion, would undermine the whole European project. He said, ‘the EU might as well just shut up shop, if we cannot get this done. This would be a massive failure on the part of the EU. A horizontal single piece of legislation represents the best of European values, it would be real shame to not have this success going into the European elections’.
Failure to pass whistleblower protection legislation, would undermine the whole European project
It would look strange, continued the MEP, if ‘the EU can pass legislation on trade secrets but not do so on whistleblowers protection’, when EU citizens have clearly expressed their support for such measures’. He pleaded with Member States to assist parliamentarians in achieving a robust directive which encourages whistleblowing and creates a Europe-wide system to protect whistleblowers.
Romanian Presidency convinced an acceptable compromise can be reached
However, Carmen Necula, Permanent representation of Romania to the EU and Vice President of FREMP, the working party of the Council which is responsible for the issue, said she is ‘confident that we will find a compromise proposal, in Council, which is acceptable to everyone’, when addressing the conference. She stated that the ‘whistleblowers protection file, is a priority for the Romanian Presidency’.
We will find a compromise proposal, in Council, which is acceptable to everyone.
Necula confirmed that the Council will be tackling the file tomorrow, 10th of January, in terms of seeing if there is a way forward, which Member States can agree on. The file will then go to Coreper on the 16th of January where further efforts will be made to reach political consensus. Member States are also expected to set out their red lines at this Coreper meeting.
On Tuesday it was all about the euphoria of the whistleblower protection Directive being adopted by the European Parliament (EP) in Strasbourg. Now the hard work begins again, as politicians, trade unions, NGOs and whistleblowers meet to discuss; “The future of the new [whistleblower protection] Directive”, at a civil society event at the European Parliament, on the 17th of April.
In the final session before the EU elections, the European Parliament will vote for a new EU Directive to protect whistleblowers in Europe. Civil society played an essential role in making this happen.
Warm applause greeted the unanimous adoption of last week’s trilogue provisional agreement on whistleblower protection, at today’s European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee.
Members of the WhistleblowersProtection.EU platform mainly welcomed the provisional agreement reached by the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council, in the early hours of the 12th of March.
The European Union is expected to shortly adopt the EU’s flagship whistleblower protection directive. EPSU, believes it is essential that the final legislation fully protects whistleblowers and encourages whistleblowers to report wrongdoing, through which ever route they consider most appropriate, be that the media or relevant authorities.
MEP Virginie Rozière, European Parliament Rapporteur for the proposed whistleblower protection directive, yesterday, received petitions with more than 280,000 signatures, gathered by coalitions of trade unions and NGOs, which she handed over to the Council of the European Union at the final scheduled trilogue in the Parliament on Monday 4 March.
Today trade unions and NGOs will deliver two petitions gathering over 280,000 signatures supporting the European Parliament’s demands for an improved directive.
In an open letter to the European Council, Commission and Parliament seven well-known European whistleblowers speak out for changing the directive and removing barriers for safe reporting.
The EU Whistleblowing Directive is an idea whose time has come. New whistleblower protection laws in Ireland, France and the Netherlands showed consensus was building among EU Member States on the need to protect and enable workers to speak up about wrongdoing in the workplace.
The directive must be changed to that whistleblowers can report not only a special internal whistleblowing channel, but also to managers or law enforcement.